How did the Columbian Exchange alter the lives of people in Europe?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The largest positive effect of the cultural exchange between the Old and New World was in the area of agricultural production. Europe was introduced to vital agricultural products that would shape the futures of all nations involved. Can you imagine going to an Italian restaurant and not being served tomato sauce? This would have been the case before the Columbian Exchange. Tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and squash were among the many fruits and vegetables introduced to Europe during the period of exploration. These foods, and the fact that the New World had an abundance of arable land allowed food production to grow exponentially. The result of this spike in food production was a growth in the population in Europe.

The New World also introduced Europe to new diseases. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that was native to the New World. It was transmitted back to Europe and became an epidemic. Other diseases that were brought back to the Old World included polio, hepatitis, and encephalitis.